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Jason Blumer CPA, He’s a Funny Guy

Jason Blumer CPA, the managing shareholder of Blumer & Associates is a funny guy.  No really.  It’s true. There is proof.

I also really like his website:

We believe your numbers are simply telling stories about the relationships, processes and knowledge running deeply through your business and life. The production of numbers is not the end goal of our firm.  We are here to bring clarity to the reasons why your numbers are what they are. We are a next-generation firm, and we are doing this all over the dang world!

That’s some nice copy – wish I had written it!  AND according to Accounting Tomorrow – Jason is the second place winner in the Atom’s Got Talent Video. Congratulations Jason!

Problems with PTIN Online System? Don’t Wait to Register

The IRS building on Constitution Avenue, Washi...

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By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

Tax preparers heads up, according to the new IRS rules, you have until January 1, 2011 to register for your PTIN (preparers tax identification number).   I’m getting a little concerned about the IRS’s ability to GET IT DONE by the January 1, 2011 due date.

Robert Flach of the Wondering Tax Pro, describes his frustration with trying to register on line in his post  WHAT A MUCKING FESS!

Before I could submit the PTIN application I first had to create an “account”. I completed this process and was “told” that I would receive an email from the IRS with a temporary password for my account.

It never came!

Two hours later I went online to try again, stating that I needed help with my password when “logging in”. After properly answering the security question I had established in my initial try I was again “told” that I would receive an email with a new password.

It never came!

I gave up for the day.

Ultimately Robert decided to mail in a Form W-12 IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application,  the alternative to applying on line.  If you choose this option beware, the IRS indicates that it could take 4 to 6 weeks to process.  The IRS has also posted the following warning on their site:

**The PTIN sign-up system and toll-free number are experiencing high volumes of users. We appreciate your patience and encourage you to try again later if you encounter delays.**

Good luck preparers, and my advice, don’t wait to GET IT DONE!

Tax Professionals Must Now Pay The IRS For The Right to Prepare Tax Returns PTIN’s Are Now For Sale

People filing tax forms in 1920

People filing tax forms in 1920

Stacie Say:  Well, now a tax professional must buy the right to prepare a tax return.  I suppose this isn’t any different from having to pay a fee every year to renew my CPA license.  Just one more thing to add to my overhead costs.

WASHINGTON — As part of an initiative to ensure that tax return preparers are competent and qualified, the Internal Revenue Service today issued final regulations requiring paid tax return preparers to register with the IRS to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). A new online application system to obtain a PTIN is now available.

All paid tax return preparers who prepare all or substantially all of a tax return are required to use the new registration system to obtain a PTIN.

Access to the online application system will be through the Tax Professionals page of IRS.gov. Individuals who currently possess a PTIN will need to reapply under the new system but generally will be reassigned the same number.

“Getting a new, industry-wide registration system in place is essential to our efforts to improve the standards and oversight of tax return preparation,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “These efforts are essential to the future of the nation’s tax system. This will create higher standards for the tax preparation community and ensure quality service for taxpayers.”

The IRS set up a special toll-free telephone number, 1-877-613-PTIN (7846), that tax professionals can call for technical support related to the new online registration system.

Applicants will pay a $64.25 fee to obtain a PTIN, which will be valid for one year. As part of that fee the IRS will receive $50 per user, as authorized by final user fee regulations issued by the IRS today, to pay for technology, compliance and outreach efforts associated with the new program. And a third-party vendor will receive $14.25 per user to operate the online system and provide customer support.

Receipt of a PTIN will be immediate after successful online registration. Or a paper application may be submitted on Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application, with a response time of four to six weeks. Before registration, applicants should consider that the date the PTIN is assigned is established as the annual renewal date.

Individuals without a Social Security number will also need to provide one of the following: Form 8945, PTIN Supplemental Application for U.S. Citizens Without a Social Security Number Due to Conscientious Religious Objection, or Form 8946, PTIN Supplemental Application for Foreign Persons Without a Social Security Number.

The new online registration system and final regulations are part of a series of steps underway to increase oversight of federal tax return preparation.

In January, Shulman announced the results of a comprehensive six-month review of the tax return preparer industry, which proposed new registration, testing and continuing education of federal tax return preparers. With 60 percent of American households using a tax preparer to help them prepare and file their taxes, higher standards for the tax return preparer community will significantly enhance protections and service for taxpayers, increase confidence in the tax system and result in greater compliance with tax laws over the long term. Currently, many return preparers do not have to meet any government or professionally mandated competency requirements before preparing a federal tax return for a fee.

Work on Testing, Continuing Education Components Continue

The start of the PTIN registration process begins as the IRS continues to review the testing and education components of the return preparer initiative as recently announced in proposed regulations that would amend Treasury Circular 230.

The proposed Circular 230 regulations announced that attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents would not be subject to additional testing or continuing education requirements in order to obtain a PTIN. These professionals are currently subject to strict professional standards of conduct and ethics.

Pending finalization of guidance, the IRS has under serious consideration extending similar treatment to a discrete category of people who engage in return preparation under the supervision of someone else — for example, some employees who prepare all or substantially all of the return and work in certain professional firms under the supervision of one of the above individuals who signs the return.

The IRS will provide guidance defining this area in the coming months, and will continue to seek feedback during this process to help ensure the creation of a fair, equitable oversight system that minimizes burden.

On the continuing education requirements, the IRS recognizes the need to have transition rules in place and plans to issue additional guidelines by the end of the year.

For more, see the Tax Professionals page on IRS.gov, which features an FAQ page on the new registration system and who needs a PTIN.

Preparer Terror – It’s Real – How to Prevent It

Figure 20 from Charles Darwin's The Expression...

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By Stacie Clifford Kitts CPA

A phenomenon affecting tax return preparers often proceeded by recurrent nightmares centered around tax return preparation. People experiencing Preparer Terror may exhibit the following symptoms:

  1. Extreme anxiety  and temporary inability to remember simple tasks such as how to spell your name
  2. Being jolted from sleep accompanied by an overriding desire to run to the office
  3. Weight gain or if you’re lucky weight loss
  4. Constant fear that you are forgetting something  – like what return was I working on, where did I put that piece of paper, who am I – ya know stuff like that.

Ways to prevent Preparer Terror:

  • Set the proper level of client expectations.

Let your clients know the drop dead due date for receiving 100% of their tax documents. If I receive tax documents after my due date, I let the client know that I might not be able to file the return on time. I will try my best. I’ll even stay up all night. But there are only so many hours in a day. If your stuff arrives late so might your tax return.

  • Evaluate your level of staffing.

If you have a tax practice, the notion is that you have some idea how long it takes to prepare a tax return. Um maybe not. Sometimes partners are so far removed from the daily prep grind that they have NO idea how long it should take a staff to prepare a return. The general rule for me is if I can prepare a return in 8 hours, a new staff may take 3 to 4 times that amount of time. So partners, listen to your staff when evaluating your staffing levels.

  • Be organized.

Well duh, you say. Well ya this is a duh moment. When your mind isn’t working and you are on the verge of losing it, knowing how and where to find the information you need might save you. So if your administrative staff is responsible for filing stuff away, you had better make darn sure your processes, and procedures are being followed like their lives depend on it!

  • Set clear expectations of your staff.

The other day I was visiting a CPA firm, it was pretty late at night, and there were partners and staff in the office working away. Then an extraordinary thing happened, the staff up and left before the partners.

In my day, leaving the office before the partners created a clear and present career danger. It just wasn’t done. I am all about work life balance, heck my kids grew up in my office. However, if you want to have some sort of lasting career in this industry – might I suggest that you get permission before leaving the office during busy time?

Making sure your staff understands what it really means to OWN a project and take responsibility for its completion is an important part of not only managing your firm but also helping to prevent Preparer Terror.

Snubbed Again! And a Sincere Apology

By Stacie Clifford Kitts CPA

I don’t get it. I didn’t make Accounting Today’s top 100 most influential people a-g-a-i-n. I mean, they don’t appear to think that my stay home tax practice or my quirky blog posts are influential enough to name. But I guess I should have been tipped off when I wasn’t contacted to supply a cute pic or provide a snappy bio.

*Heavy sigh* I guess there is always next year….

This year’s list includes many predictable faces. It also includes some fun new ones. Some of which I include in my list of Facebook friends.

Michelle Golden of Golden Practices makes this year’s list. Yeah Michelle. Michelle is the lady you want to know if you are looking for some social networking techniques that will benefit your CPA firm.

Geni Greer Whitehouse also makes the list – Geni is an expert in accounting technology and shares this with her accounting clients through her consulting services.

Other influential women listed are:

  • Teresa Mackintosh,  General Manager and Senior Vice President, Workflow & Service solutions, Americas – Professional, Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters. (Good job, but might I suggest that you think about shortening up that title – what a mouthful!)
  • Krista McMasters, CEO Clifton, Gunderson
  • Gale Crosley, Present of Crosley &+Co.
  • Cindy Fornelli, Executive director, Center for Audit Quality
  • Rita Keller, President Keller Advisors
  • Judy O’Dell, Chair FASB Private Companies Financial Reporting Committee
  • Nina Olson, National Taxpayer Advocate IRS
  • Rebecca Ryan, Founder Next Generation Consulting
  • Mary Schapiro, Chair SEC
  • Sue Swenson, President, and CEO Sage North America
  • Jennifer Warawa, Senior director of partner programs Sage North America
  • Sandra Wiley, Partner, senior consultant and COO, Boomer Consulting
  • Jennifer Wilson Co-founder and owner, Convergence Coaching

My personal congratulations to all the professionals who made this year’s list.

On another note – Dear Geni – I screwed up.

Geni Greer Whitehouse provided me a copy of her fabulous book How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting so I could post an interview on my blog. To date I haven’t sent her any questions – this does not speak well for my follow through skills. Which really are good – I swear – or I wouldn’t have the client base that I have?

Regardless, I owe Geni an apology so let’s make it public –

Dear Geni

I want to send you my sincere apologies for failing to send you the list of questions for the interview. You may notice that I have ordered another copy of your book. This is because the initial copy that you so gracefully sent was “barrowed” by a client. It was apparently so helpful that I never saw it again. I will get those questions over to you. I found your book to be quite helpful. It played a key role in helping me to win a best speaker ribbon.

So there it is my lame excuse. If there was any good to come from my failure, it was what I learned  1) never lend out a book before I’m done with it, 2) don’t forgot – branding is important but consider the time investment and follow through necessary to pull off your strategy.

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